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Can You Tell If Your Child Is Really Happy?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Health, Child Development, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: children, happiness, happy, moods, personality, sad, toddler

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A happy child plays, exhibits curiosity, shows an interest in things and other children; an unhappy child tends to need constant attention, they are withdrawn, quiet, and don't eat much.  They tend not to get involved with other children and don't ask questions or speak very much.  However, if you have a shy child who doesn't interact a great deal, that does not mean they are unhappy.  Being shy is not being sad.

P. Hollinger notes there are nine inborn signals that babies use to communicate feelings.  The following signals can also be spotted in toddlers and are good pointers to how happy the toddler is.

  • Interest - a positive feeling
  • Enjoyment - a positive feeling
  • Distress - a negative feeling
  • Anger - a negative feeling
  • Fear - a negative feeling

Dealing with  Children and making them happy

Play - Toys, expensive clothes, lashings of ice cream: do these make children happy?  Perhaps in the short term, for an hour or two, but what really makes them happy is having fun with parents, grandparents or their childminders.  When they have fun and play games and laugh with you, that play creates joy.  It also helps with their imagination, creativity and relaxation.

Talents - Help children develop their own talents. If they are good at something, they will feel happy about that.  If they like modeling, keep some cartons and lids and let them create a robot out of boxes.  If they like drawing, then let them make a picture and hang it on the wall.  Help them master a skill and see how happy they will be.

Let them do what they want - Within reason, this is an important lesson for parents to understand.  No matter how much you want them to learn piano, if they don't want to then they won't enjoy it.  Try not to push them to do things they aren't interested in.  Listen to their own ideas.  If they are talking about going to football, rather than ballet, then give it a try.  And, try not to stick to gender prejudices.  Girls can play football, boys can do ballet!

Healthy bodies - To enable the children to play and run and enjoy life to the full, give them a healthy diet.  With good food, and lots of sleep they will have the ability to really tackle tasks and situations with energy. Give them lots of time to run around.

Sad time - Being a bit sad is okay so don't try and shake them out of a mood if they are feeling a bit down.  They need to be independent people and able to gauge their own moods.  You can encourage them to explain how they feel and try and explain or get out of the mood together.

Be a Good Role Model - Children pick up on moods and are sensitive to other's feelings so try to be positive in your own mood and outlook.  They will pick up on this and it will influence their own behaviour.

What Do Your Child's Drawings Mean?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Health , Tags: art, drawing, happy, interpreting, meaning, pictures, sad

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Children can use drawing as a way of expressing feelings or emotions that they don't understand - drawing can reflect how they are feeling, or fears they might have  However, don't worry that your child only draws in black or never puts hands on the people she draws because it doesn't necessarily mean they are unbalanced or unhappy.  However, it is interesting to see how different children interpret things in different ways: both the instructions and the application of drawing can be very different between children of the same age who have been given the same instructions.

Here are a few pointers which may, or may not, reflect different traits in our children.

  • If a picture is in the middle of the page, the child is happy, content or it could mean they are egotistical.
  • If the picture is in the top half, they are ambitious.
  • If the picture is in the bottom half, they child may be insecure.
  • If the picture is towards the top left, they are musical or artistic.
  • If its in the top right, they are eager.
  • If features are missed out in a person, this may indicate mistrust.
  • Children tend to draw what they love most: sibling, toys, fantasy world ie. fairies etc.
  • Using a ruler frequently in a picture could mean anxiety.
  • Lots of dark colours or black could mean sadness, anger or anxiety.
  • If they coulour in with bright colours, they are warm and happy children.
  • Pictures drawn very small could mean they are shy.
  • If the hands are too big, this could indicate aggression.
  • If there are no hands or small hands, this could mean they have an inferiority feeling.

However, don't worry too much and get too stuck on interpretation!  If your child draws lots of circles it could be that's what they like to draw.  If they draw people with their hands up that's not helplessness, it could be a cheer. If they keep drawing bees, it's not a hidden anxiety about insects, it could be just that they are fun, nice things to draw.  If they draw lots of flowers, it doesn't mean they are optimistic, it could just be something their Mummy has shown them!

So, looking at and trying to interpret children's drawings is just an interesting exercise to see how your child draws differently to others... so don't read too much into it.  And, after all, incoherent pictures don't mean confused or bewildered children, it could be that your child is just not good or practiced at drawing!

How to Expose Feelings in Young Children

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Health, Child Development , Tags: communicating, drawing, feelings, happy, sad

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It's so easy to say "I'm fine" when someone asks how you are and the same applies to children, but such a response often masks true feelings.  Are young children really fine or are they actually a bit under the weather or even unhappy? What are their likes and dislikes?  For little children it's hard to know if they are really happy or not - they may not know how to express themselves even if you ask them.  However there are ways of exposing whether children are happy and one very good way is through drawing.

Children find drawing a good way of expressing themselves and for many children it's an easier way of communicating especially if they don't have the words to tell you exactly how they feel.  You can also use a child's drawing as a way to start a conversation about feelings and whether they are happy or not.  Here is a simple way to investigate how a little one may be feeling.

  1. Clear a table and give your child some paper, a pencil and some crayons
  2. Ask them to draw a picture about how they feel today; give them some pointers if they need, but try not to tell them what to draw
  3. Chat about the drawing and ask questions about it
  4. If they are still in the mood for doing a bit more, ask them to draw their happiest day ever; again, try to get them to use their own ideas

Compare the two drawings and look especially at:

  1. The size of the people and their expressions
  2. The size of the things they have drawn ie tiny house or large bold house?
  3. What colours have they used?
  4. What are the people doing?
  5. What's the weather?

There is no hard and fast explanation, but research tends to suggest that the figures will be boldly drawn and have happy faces if the child is feeling happy.  Things or people that the child likes will be larger than those things they do not like.  Activities the child likes will be larger and more detailed than those they don't like.  They may choose their favourite colour for things and people they like and a less favourite colour for things or people they don't like.  People drawn closely together tend to be the child's favourite people and less favoured people will be drawn further away.

Compare the pictures on different days and see if there are any dramatic differences.  Keep the pictures and over time build up a real picture of your child's thoughts...


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